Although not generating as much media attention as I’m sure the ARU would like most rugby fans would have been aware that the Australian Rugby Championships (ARC) kicked off this weekend. Here in Canberra the Canberra Vikings hosted the Melbourne Rebels at Manuka oval.
Back on the pre-game post Vicepope has given a brief run down of the match, the result being a less than convincing start for the Vikings being beaten by the Rebels 32-27.
For my part, sitting amongst the crowd of 4,000 odd rugby supporters it was, despite the loss, one of the more enjoyable games of rugby I’ve seen live this year.
The crowd was dominated with fans adorned in Brumbies colours, matching closely the Rebels strip rather than the red and black of the Vikings but for a small crowd on at a large, non rugby ground, there was little doubt as to which team was being supported with Viking’s chants erupting regularly.
The first half seemed to be going to plan although towards the end it could already be seen that the Rebels were handling the hard pitch better and seemed to have the greater match fitness. The second half started poorly, losing the lead in the first minute to a Rebel try under the posts and continued in that fashion. The Vikings seemed to be not controlling the ball at the breakdown and every time the Vikings closed the Rebels made good use of the opportunities presented to them, making two great try scoring runs down the sideline.
I agree with Vicepope that 9 Finger Jonny made some blistering up front runs and that he also at times had some ball handling issues. From the Rebels David Croft seemed to always be in the thick of it and deserved the Man-of-the-Match award. Digby Ioane also appeared to have a good game for the Rebels, as did a number of other players that I’m sure to get to know over the coming weeks. One other fan was heard to comment as the Rebel reserves ran past along the side lines, a group that included a blond balding giant who looked more suited to AFL, that the Rebels consisted of a large number of old dogs and young bucks, discards from other teams and areas, much in the same way the Brumbies were at the start of the Super Rugby comp.
I must make comment of some great calls made during the match, both on and off the field. A young kid, no more than 12, said some corkers, calling some Rebels players “Princesses” and bagging the ref, labelling him “Son of Andre” and singing “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I want to be a Ref!”. On the pitch a Viking lineout call was heard to be “84 Donuts”. The match announcer was good and although pausing a bit long announcing who was going on an off, understandable with so many new names, did well to explain a number of new variations to the rules without distracting from what was happening on the field.
At the end it was sad to see a number of people leaving 7 minutes out from full time, when it seemed a forgone conclusion that the Vikings had lost after the Rebels scored their fifth try, particularly as even with a crowd of 4,355 it wasn’t like there was going to be a problem getting out of the car parks but it was their loss as they missed a nice consolation try by Vikings #2 Saia Faingaa 20 seconds from the siren.
Oh, and for those wishing to know, the Viking’s mascot’s name is Odin 😉